Tag Archives: Jones

Distraction Drama Dismay

The twitchier I get, the more inventive I get.

What with the youngest dude, Hyper Lad, starting to get behind the wheel now that he’s 15, I’m probably more twitchy then I’ve ever been when I consider having to teach this guy how to drive.

I feel like one of those short-timers from any movie about Vietnam. As the date they will rotate home gets closer and closer, they get more and more paranoid about something happening to them before they get out.

I’ve made it through teaching two other young dudes how to drive, but now that the last one is come around, I’m starting to freak out more than I ever have before.

Fortunately for me, I actually have made it through two other driving debuts so I do have a couple of tricks in my bag.

The first big trick in the bag is repetition, which is the trick I take out of the bag first. This is one trick I have been using for a long time with things like texting. Knowing I have/had three sponges sitting behind me, I make sure to loudly and often refer to the fact that I got a text, but can’t read it because I was driving. Or I will ask one of them to read aloud the text and respond.

They have heard again and again, seen again and again and again, that they should not text and drive. I get the feeling that they’re more likely than not to follow in those footsteps, if only to avoid having to hear me talk about it again and again and again and again. . .

Since the spawn couldn’t see my face while I was driving and they riding, I made sure to continually talk about how I was keeping my eyes on the road even when I had to change the radio or something similar. I recommend them getting to know their car/dashboard well enough that they don’t have to look to hit the radio buttons.

While this next step might be corny, I think it really does work. Before I allowed any of the young dudes to drive on their own, I sat them down and went over point by point exactly what was expected of them. For each point, they had to tell me specifically that they would not or would do that point. You also can do the same thing in a written contract they must sign.

Include repercussions that will occur to the young driver should he or she violate the terms of the promise/agreement. And enforce those terms.

While not necessarily distracting, one thing I have made sure they know is something that my mom made me understand. If I was ever out with friends and either I, as driver, or my friend, as driver, had been drinking, I could call my mom and she would pick everyone up, no matter the time, and never say another word about it.

I only ever called her once, but she was true to her word. I’ve made sure that my young dudes understand that as well. If there is any sign of impairment, they always know they have a free, safe ride without any sort of blowback for them. Knowing that we trust them enough that we’ll offer that kind of thing, actually helps them to do the right thing because they want to live up to that trust.

Or at least that was how I felt when I was on the other end of the bargain.

In North Carolina, new drivers aren’t allowed to stuff the car with their friends. Neither are new drivers with the last name of Jones, who live in Casa de Dude. We make it a point for our young dudes to understand that their first job as drivers is to make their way from Point A to Point B safely. Bringing along anyone else is way, way down the list.

Friends in the car can be even more distracting than driving by a 10-car pile-up of a circus truck, a shipment from a marble factory and a funeral home for mimes.

The two big takeaways from this would have to be make sure you model good driving behavior and communicate with your neophyte driver, which means both of you talk and both of you listen.

Distraction starts behind the eyeballs. Fortunately, safety does as well, so make sure there’s more room for safety.

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Birthday Wishes For My Son

Today, Sarcasmo is a man.

Well, he was a man yesterday, too, but today is when it becomes official. As hard as it is to believe, my oldest little dude (who in no way can actually be considered little) turns 21 today.

I am, to put it bluntly, shocked. But only when I stop to think about it. And so I spend most of my time trying desperately not to think about said twopointone decades of parenthood that now stretches behind me.

Yikes.

Feeling the breeze blowing from the open burial pit laid out in front of me is a minor concern, though, when I call to mind the face of my oldest son, my namesake, the fifth of his name. . . Sarcasmo.*

When his mom-to-be and my wife, known to me then as She Who Must Be Sexy No Matter How Distended Is Her Belly Right Then, and I decided to bless the world with our progeny, we had no idea he’d not want to come out.

There we were, past 40 weeks and Sarcasmo-to-be seemed to have no intention of leaving where he was. Heck, he was comfortable, warm and fed where he was, so why go through the hassle of getting born?

Which meant we needed to do a little inducing so we packed up and headed to the hospital where the Motile Clone Gestation Unit was hooked up to various drug drips and monitors and we settled in to wait.

Despite a few contractions, it didn’t seem to be progressing. This being the dark ages, we couldn’t pull out a tablet and watch something good, so we had to make do with TV. Nothing good was on, so I got sent by the Motile Clone Gestation Unit to a nearby Blockbuster Video to rent a movie to watch. During labor.

Of course it was while I was at the video store that the doctors broke her water and the really painful contractions set in. I got a page (I told you it was in the dark ages) that consisted of the digitally written equivalent of “GET BACK HERE NOW! I WILL KILL YOU FOR LEAVING! GET BACK NOW! I WILL KILL YOU! I love you.”

Labor, amirite, dudes?

Even though we had a few exciting hours of contractions, eventually it leveled off and stalled. Sarcasmo-to-be really didn’t want to come out. So we were going to have to cut him out.

Dudes, let me tell you something important here. If you ever are in the operating room with your partner and child-to-be and the doctor offers for you to look over the curtain at the incision site. . . Don’t do it. Just. . . don’t.

And then the doctors told us that we had a baby boy. Our son. And placed the tiny human in our arms and I realized just exactly what real love felt like. I understood why my parents put up with my guff for all those years.

I looked into his face and understood the purpose of the universe had been to bring us all there. To that hospital. In that room. At that time. To bring into existence the reason for it all.

I met my son and all other concerns fell away.

With Sarcasmo, I learned how to be a parent. He taught me how to be a dad. How to be friendly, but still retain the authority to speak and be listened to. Even more important, he also taught me how to listen.

He was my first little dude to smile, to talk, to crawl and walk. To eat on his own. He was the first to be embarrassed by the sniffling dad in the back of the kindergarten classroom who just did not want to leave and might have had to be escorted from the room by the teacher’s helper.**

But even better than all the tiny-human firsts is the current first. He’s the first of my little dudes that I can watch become a man. He’s out on his own now, making decisions (for good and for ill) and beginning his own life, one only tangentially related to mine.

It’s hard — darn hard — to let go of the wheel that directs his life. But it’s something I’m learning from him even now.

He’s got the tools he needs to succeed and is one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. And I say that as a person, not necessarily as a dad. And one of the thickest and fastest-growing beards it’s ever been my frightened privilege to watch grow.

The years between the dawn of his first night as a tiny human on the outside (when I held him up to the rising sun, proclaimed him my heir and listened to the roar of the animals***) and now have not always been easy ones. There have been times when I haven’t wanted to hear his voice and many more when, I’m sure, he thought the one thing in which I would look best would be a shallow grave.

And, yet, through all that. . . Through the screaming and the yelling. . . Through the tears and the smiles. . . I have always loved the big dude and always will.

Sarcasmo is an amazing young dude with so much promise to fulfill as he walks out into the world as a man. I’m so glad I get to be there as it happens.

Footnotes & Errata

* NO! That’s not his real name, d’uh! He’s Richard Edward Jones V, where the V stands for Roman Numeral Five, not Violet. At least as far as he knows.
** Might have. The important word in that sentence is might.
*** Although I’m not sure why there was a big orangutan there. Or animals, really. It was an. . . odd dawn. I might have been a bit punchy.

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Word Of Mouth

How do you know that what you want to buy is any good?

If you’re buying something from a nearby brick-and-mortar store, you simply go there, take a look at it, heft it in your hands and get a feel for the object.

Then you go back home and do the same thing you’d do if you were buying the object, sight unseen, from a store on the internet: you look it up and start reading reviews.

I realize that there are some folks out there who are making a mockery of the review system, in that they are either hiring people to write glowing reviews of their product or scathing reviews of the competitor’s product, but I can’t think of a better system — when it’s not being gamed — for getting the unvarnished truth about a product.

Purchaser reviews are like talking over the backyard fence to your neighbor about her new lawn mower, or asking your cubicle-mate at work what he thought about that new Ethiopian restaurant downtown. You get to hear what each dude or dudette really thinks about the purchase or the food or the service.

You know that the person you asked isn’t being paid to speak only in glowing terms about the new nose-hair trimmer she just purchased. If you trust her, then you’ll trust her opinion of the nose-hair trimmer.

The internet, however, is a bit bigger than only your neighborhood. Odds are, you won’t know who the person recommending a product is, but you can be reasonably certain they are reviewing this under their own initiative, not because it’s their job to shill for Company X.

This came to mind last night, when I received a note from Amazon.Com that my review had helped another customer decide to purchase an item I got for Hyper Lad. It made me glad because, for a long while, I’d been reading reviews, but leaving hardly any.

That is just bad form.

See, you might recall that I’m a writer. (See A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook by Richard Jones and Barry Robert Ozer, on sale at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, Powells.com and fine brick-and-mortar stores everywhere for proof.)

Since the book came out, I’ve been begging people to read it and then leave a review on Amazon or Barnes and Noble or anywhere they think others will see the review. The more reviews we get, the more people will see it, the more people will buy it, the better I’ll feel about the whole thing. (Which might not be all that important to you, but is oddly high on my list.)

I still don’t think we have enough reviews, but as I was brooding over that, I realized that I wasn’t holding up my end of the bargain. That is, I wanted reviews, but I wasn’t giving reviews.

Now, I understand there’s no big review toteboard up in the sky that ensures if you leave a review, you’ll get a review. But I thought maybe it was time to practice what I preached.

So I’ve been going back and leaving reviews for most of the items I’ve purchased from Amazon.com and other places. It’s taking a long, long, long, long, long (I like to buy things on the internet instead of searching for them IRL), long, long time. But I’m sticking with it.

And I think you should as well. I know you dudes and dudettes have read the reviews others have left, but have you left one in return? If folks don’t keep leaving reviews, the system breaks down and then we have to depend on the paid flacks for their not-so-honest answers.

No one wins when that happens.

Do your part, dudes. Buy a product? Write a review. Read a book? Write a review. Watch a movie? Write a review.

It only takes a couple of minutes. You’ll be glad you did.

You can always start here, reviewing A Dude’s Guide to Babies: The New Dad’s Playbook by Richard Jones and Barry Robert Ozer. Just a thought.

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